In the past your local bank manager would know about your churchgoing habits, or lack of them; he’d know all the stories about you and your family; he’d know what your boss said about you. He would know how you were regarded by your professional advisors. Then, he’d glance at the numbers on your loan application form and make a decision. And then along came an algorithm and things evolved. In 1956 an American mathematician named Earl Isaac and his engineer friend, Bill Fair devised a model they called FICO to evaluate the risk that an individual would default on a loan by looking at a person’s debt and bill-paying record.

Today in the UK every lender uses its own computer algorithm. And there are many pseudoscientific models to predict our creditworthiness which are arbitrary, unaccountable, unregulated and often unfair. When these systems sift through our data to size us up they naturally project the past into the future. The models ask, ‘how have people like you behaved in the past?’

At Bricks we take a different view. We ask ‘how have you behaved in the past?’ We blend the human knowledge of a local bank manager with computer algorithms. We look at context, common sense and fairness and then make our decision.